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4 Smart Tactics For Advanced Google Ads Audience Targeting

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4 Smart Tactics For Advanced Google Ads Audience Targeting

Gone are the days of solely relying on keywords to drive your PPC success.

With the relaxed keyword match types, the use of audiences in Google Ads has sophisticated tenfold.

Utilizing audience targeting is no longer an option for campaigns; it should be part of your overall campaign strategy.

Here, you’ll learn four advanced audience targeting tactics for refining your PPC targeting to leverage budget and maximize return on ad spend (ROAS).

1. Smarter Use Of Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSAs)

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) allow you to customize your search ad campaigns based on the user behavior of previous website visitors, and tailor your bids/targeting options around these users when they’re searching on Google.

Example: Target people who spend over your average purchase revenue when searching for competitor brands.

This tactic will allow you to target and display ads to users that have generated a high conversion value for you historically whenever they are searching for one of your competitors on Google search, which could help you avoid losing customers to your paid competitors.

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For example, an online grocery retailer could identify shoppers who spend over their average order value each week.

In this scenario, the advertiser could set up a separate campaign to target and bid on competitor terms but use RLSAs so that ads are only served whenever users within the list are searching.

This is a great way of ensuring your budget is only spent on retaining profitable customers.

If you’d like to apply this tactic to your account, you’ll first need to find the average purchase revenue per user being reported in your Google Analytics account by navigating to Monetization > Overview:

Screenshot by author, March 2022

Once you’ve found the average order value figure you’ll be able to create an audience list using the audience builder via Configure > Audiences in Google Analytics:

4 Smart Tactics For Advanced Google Ads Audience TargetingScreenshot by author, March 2022

You can set the event parameters and add any conditions:

4 Smart Tactics For Advanced Google Ads Audience TargetingScreenshot by author, March 2022

This tactic is particularly effective in industries where consumers aren’t loyal and may often flick between different retailers for the best deal (e.g., in grocery retail).

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By applying this list you could tailor your ad copy and advertise loyalty discounts to these customers to prevent them from deserting your brand for a competitor:

Example of how to message your RLSA audiences in Google Ads.Screenshot by author, March 2022

2. Combining Social Audiences With RLSAs

With more than 2.9 billion monthly active users, Facebook has no rival when it comes to the enormity of its audience.

While Facebook targeting can be beneficial to reach the masses, another main benefit Facebook offers lies in the potential granularity with which you can target Facebook’s users.

Unlike Google Ads, Facebook has information on what users actually “Like” or follow, and in-depth data from users’ personal profiles.

The benefits of using social ads alongside search campaigns can be huge.

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For example, a recent case study from Facebook showed that the brand Bombas saw a 27-point lift in ad recall for evergreen campaigns when utilizing Custom Audience targeting.

Despite this, I still encounter tons of brands whose approach to advertising on both Facebook and Google is unaligned, and therefore they fail to share insights gained from one platform to another to maximize success.

Example: Use Facebook to uncover new potential buyers and then target these people on search to increase the likelihood of them converting.

Facebook is one of the best platforms for expanding your reach and identifying new users who aren’t actively looking for your products or services right now.

By tagging the ads you run on Facebook targeting these new audience segments, you will later be able to target ads at these users when they search Google using top-of-the-funnel keywords, increasing the likelihood of those Facebook clicks turning into new customers.

To do this, you would first need to create a new campaign on Facebook designed to target new potential customers you aren’t already targeting with your search ads (exclude existing website visitors and mailing list members):

Target new potential customers you aren't already targeting with your search ads.Screenshot by author, March 2022

By tagging the resulting Facebook campaign with UTM tags, any clicks from this audience will be recorded in Google Analytics under the campaign name you have set.

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You’ll then be able to create an audience list in Google Analytics which consists of traffic from this particular Facebook campaign:

4 Smart Tactics For Advanced Google Ads Audience TargetingScreenshot by author, March 2022

Remember, like any audience list you create, the list must contain at least 1,000 members before being eligible for use on Google search.

Once you’ve populated your audience list with enough traffic from Facebook, create a search campaign on Google Ads which includes only top of the funnel keywords such as informational queries related to the product/service you offer (they need to be top of the funnel because this audience isn’t specifically searching for your product/service).

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Finally, apply the remarketing list to the ad groups created in your search campaign, choosing the target and bid setting, so that the search ads only show to users who are from your list of new potential customers uncovered on Facebook.

I strongly recommend this tactic if you feel like you have exhausted current demand on Google search in your industry, as it allows you to effectively create search demand by reaching new users and promoting consideration of your product or service.

You can also utilize this same strategy using Microsoft Ads to maximize your reach.

3. Using Custom Affinity Audiences

Google launched custom affinity audiences to give advertisers more granular control over audience targeting options on the display network.

This tackles the issue with regular Google Ads affinity audiences in that there isn’t a predefined affinity audience suitable for every business.

Custom affinity audience targeting can be set up by navigating to a Display campaign in Google Ads, clicking Targeting > Audience Segments  > Your Custom Audience Segments > New Custom  Audience.

Here you can create your own specific audience using free form interests entered as keywords and/or using URLs as a proxy for interest bundles:

Create your own specific audience using free form interests.Screenshot by author, March 2022

In this example, the custom affinity targeting has built an audience of “Garden Enthusiasts” using interests (keywords entered) and URL targeting.

You’re able to get real-time demographic insights as you’re building the audience. This can help drive further granularity to ensure you’re targeting the right people.

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While custom affinity audience targeting allows for more control on the GDN, I think it’s best used for brand building.

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You can take an even more granular approach to GDN targeting by layering custom affinity audiences with other forms of targeting to increase campaign efficiency.

4. Combining In-Market Segments With Remarketing

In-market audiences allow you to set up your campaigns to reach people who are further down the funnel and are more ready to make a purchase.

Google accurately categorizes users so you can target those most interested in their offerings.

Google states that you can distinguish interest from the purchaser’s intent by leveraging real-time data and a powerful classification system based on demonstrated in-market behavior.

In-market audiences can help drive incremental conversions, helping you to connect with consumers as the last step before they make a purchase decision.

To target an in-market audience segment you would need to navigate to Targeting > In-market and life events > In-market segments.

Here you will see a list of almost 500 available in-market audiences, with the option to further granulate the high-level categories (highlighted below).

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Simply click the “down” arrow on each In-Market category to drill down your desired audience.

Choose from over 500 in-market audiences in Google Ads.Screenshot by author, March 2022

The real impact on conversions comes when using in-market segments in conjunction with website remarketing lists.

You can layer the in-market segments on top of your remarketing lists to increase reach while maintaining a high degree of relevancy with the aim of bolstering overall conversions.

Conclusion

Paid search keyword costs continue to rise every year. If your marketing budget doesn’t increase to keep up with the shift, you’ll need to get creative to drive new demand growth.

Many advertisers are shifting huge chunks of the budget over to other platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok, largely due to superior audience targeting options (not searcher intent) and reduced CPCs.

With this in mind and the increased use of automation within Google Ads, I think Google will be continuing to add to its options of audience targeting in a privacy-centric way.

The PPC landscape is always changing. Make sure you keep on top of the latest features as well as test some of the tips outlined above to see whether they can deliver improved paid media results for your business.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Jirsak/Shutterstock

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How To Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper

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How To Use Google's Structured Data Markup Helper

If you drill down to the very core, every search engine optimization (SEO) strategy has the same aim: convincing Google your webpage is the best answer to a user’s query.

There are a lot of tactics you can and should employ to achieve this, but that’s the goal.

And, as the Google brain has grown more complex, it’s able to display increasingly more detailed and helpful answers.

For example, if you’re looking to book a flight from Chicago O’Hare to LAX, Google can now show you options in rich snippets on search results pages.

Likewise, if you run a concert venue, you can add code known as structured data to your website that will encourage Google to display your events when they’re relevant to web searchers.

If you’re not familiar with the term “structured data,” don’t fret – there are a lot of SEO professionals and web marketers who aren’t.

In this article, we’ll set that right, plus give you tips on using the Structured Data Markup Helper to easily add it to your site.

What Is Structured Data?

As defined in this post, structured data is information (data) that is organized (structured). Organized information is basically what structured data is.

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For SEO purposes, structured data is a specific type of formatting that gives Google information about the meaning of a page.

Following a standardized vocabulary outlined by Schema.org, it is used across several search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.

Structured data can use syntax like JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata, among others.

Why Is Structured Data Important?

There are several reasons why webpages use structured data.

For one thing, it makes navigation easier for both search engine crawlers and human users.

This is because it provides the information that can then be displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) in the form of rich snippets, video carousels, and other special search result features and enhancements.

This leads to faster indexing by search spiders and enhances your site’s search visibility. This can also help improve your click-through rate, increase conversions, and grab more voice search traffic.

In an article for Search Engine Journal, Winston Burton, Senior Vice President of SEO at global search and marketing agency Acronym, detailed the results of adding structured data to the client’s website.

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With no other optimization strategies employed, the client saw a 400% net growth in rich result organic traffic and a 140% growth in impressions for the company’s answer center.

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Even if this is a statistical outlier, it still highlights the massive potential of using structured data.

What Is Structured Data Used For?

Now that we’ve covered what structured data is and why it’s important, let’s look into some of the ways it can be used.

In an April 2022 Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, Google Search Advocate John Mueller dove into structured data and its uses.

If you have 30 minutes to spare, it’s well worth the watch. If you’re in a hurry, the part that’s relevant to the current topic begins at 27:19. Or better yet, read Roger Montti’s coverage of it here.

In this hangout, Mueller was asked a question about how to choose the best format for structured data.

His answer was that it’s not so much about what format a page uses, but rather what kind of rich result is available for the page.

Structured data is very versatile and provides a lot of opportunities for businesses to use it to drive clicks. Some of these you may wish to take advantage of include:

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Knowledge Panels

Used for things that are part of the Google Knowledge Graph, they provide a quick overview of information about a topic.

Screenshot from search, Google, June 2022

As a business, you can use knowledge panels to give users at-a-glance information about your brand name, logo, and phone number, among other things.

Rich Snippets

Sometimes referred to as rich results, this is the additional data Google shows users in addition to normal search results. This may include things like music, events, or recipes.

Rich Snippets ExampleScreenshot from search, Google, June 2022

For commercial purposes, this is where reviews can be shown. It can also highlight things like products, addresses, and special offers.

Hosted Carousels

Common on mobile devices, this shows multiple “cards” from the same site.

Not to be confused with ordinary carousels, which can include images, video, and other data pulled from multiple sites, hosted carousels use content from only one “host” site.

Google currently supports the following types of hosted carousels:

  • Educational Course.
  • Movie.
  • Recipe.
  • Restaurant.
Carousel exampleScreenshot from search, Google, June 2022

AdWords

If you’re using Google’s automated ads as part of your PPC strategy, you can use structured snippets to give more information to customers.

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For example, you could use them to provide information about a line of products, included features or services offered.

AdWords exampleScreenshot from search, Google, June 2022

But, before you go inserting structured snippets into your webpages willy-nilly, you should know these are subject to standard Google Ads policies and must meet a number of requirements, a full list of which can be found here.

Getting Started With Structured Data

By now you should see the benefits structured data can offer, so let’s look at how to add it to your website.

The simplest way to add structured data to your webpage is by using Google’s Data Highlighter tool.

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To use this, simply open the tool and highlight data like name, date, location, etc. with your mouse.

Google will note this information the next time it crawls your site and present the data in rich snippets on search results pages.

You can also manually markup elements on HTML webpages. Sound intimidating? It’s not. You just have to have a small working knowledge of coding.

For your convenience, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  1.   Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
  2.   Click the “Website” tab.
  3.   Select the type of page you’re marking up (e.g., job postings, restaurants, Q&A page, local businesses, etc.)
  4.   Enter the URL of an existing page or raw page HTML.
  5.   Click “Start Tagging.”
  6.   Highlight the parts of the page you want to be included in rich snippets and identify them in the dropdown that appears.
  7.   Fill in the required information. For an event, this includes the event name, location, and date.
  8.   After you have finished tagging, click the “Create HTML” button and choose an output format. JSON-LD is Google’s preferred format, though you can also choose Microdata.
  9.   Copy the code or download it. If you are using JSON-LD, paste the generated code into the body of the existing page. If you choose Microdata, replace your page with the generated HTML.
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Some other things to note:

  • To test the generated code, copy and paste it into the Rich Result test, which will show you any missing fields you need to fill in.
  • You can have multiple items on one page, but Google recommends that they are all the same type, e.g., all movies or all job postings.
  • All pages you want to display rich snippets for should be available to the public and not hidden behind login screens.
  • It may take a few weeks for Google to crawl your new page, but once it does it can be shown in rich snippets.

Is Structured Data A Ranking Signal?

Now for the $10,000 question: Will structured data markup help your site appear higher in search rankings?

Unfortunately, no.

In a deep dive into the topic, Search Engine Journal found that while it offers many benefits, there is no direct evidence schema markup is used by Google to determine search ranking.

That said, because it helps search engines more easily understand the content of your website, it can help you show up in relevant queries you may have been excluded from in the past.

Key Takeaways

Traffic is always the name of the game in digital marketing. And leveraging structured data on your website is a great way to help attract visitors.

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Not only does it enhance the appearance of your content in search results, but it can help your site get indexed faster.

Rich results (particularly positive product reviews) can also significantly improve your click-through rate and average time on the page.

If your page is used in a featured snippet, it will show at the top of SERPs.

In addition to the increase in visibility that provides, featured snippets are used to answer voice search queries. That means you’ll be the only result for anyone who uses Siri or Alexa for a query.

The final reason you should use structured data on your website is that it gives you more control over your information.

You determine how Google understands your brand and allows you to control how your information is defined.

Structured data is a useful tool in your toolbox. It doesn’t work for every site and every type of content, but if you’re in a field where it is useful, it’s something you need to be using.


Featured Image: NicoElNino/Shutterstock

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